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By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Aiming to regroup after a very tumultuous week, the Miami Dolphins head to Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium for their preseason game against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers with a little less star power than they began training camp with.
The spotlight-seeking Dolphins made plenty of headlines, not to mention providing some compelling drama for their participation in HBO's "Hard Knocks" documentary, with Sunday's sudden release of wide receiver Chad Johnson. The move came one day after the six-time Pro Bowl honoree was arrested on domestic battery charges following an altercation with his wife, and two after starting quarterback candidate David Garrard revealed he'll be undergoing a knee scope that will almost certainly sideline the veteran for the entire exhibition schedule.
On-field performance also likely had a hand in new head coach Joe Philbin's decision to part ways with Johnson, signed by Miami in June shortly after being cut loose by fellow AFC East member New England. The 34-year-old dropped his only catch attempt in the Dolphins' 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay last Friday and was reportedly struggling to grasp the team's offense.
"With any type of these decisions, it was not an easy one," Philbin said on Monday. "It was not reactive nor was it based on one single incident. It didn't feel like, to me, that the fit was going to be right for the organization."
Johnson's departure leaves free-agent pickup Legedu Naanee and holdovers Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Roberto Wallace as the top options of an uninspiring group of receivers, though Hartline's attempt to win a starting job has been impeded by a calf strain that's kept him out most of camp. Naanee spent last season with the Panthers, compiling 44 receptions and 467 yards in 11 starts.
Wallace, who owns just six career catches in two previous seasons, made a bid for a larger role by amassing a team-best 71 yards on four grabs against the Buccaneers.
Garrard's injury whittles the three-man competition at quarterback down to two, with ex-Panther Matt Moore and 2012 first-round pick Ryan Tannehill locked in a battle that may be too close to call right now. Tannehill stated his case with a strong preseason debut in which the promising rookie completed 14-of-21 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown.
Moore, who started 13 games for Carolina from 2007-10 and 12 for the Dolphins last season, went just 7-of-12 for 79 yards with an interception while drawing the start in the Tampa Bay game. He'll be visiting Bank of America Stadium for the first time since signing with Miami as a free agent prior to the 2011 campaign.
Philbin has yet to declare who will begin Friday's contest, with both players receiving first-team reps during this week's practice.
The Panthers will also be out to improve off an unsatisfying result in their opener. Carolina's three quarterbacks were sacked a total of eight times in Saturday's 26-13 home defeat to Houston, while the defense surrendered 174 rushing yards and 375 total and the special-teams unit allowed a 90-yard kickoff return touchdown.
Newton operated under center for most of the first quarter, but the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year managed a mere 17 yards on 2-of-6 passing and led the offense to only a field goal on his three drives.
One bright spot for Carolina was rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, with the No. 9 overall pick of this past draft recording four tackles and a forced fumble in limited action with the first-team defense. Wide receiver Louis Murphy had a good game as well, as the former Oakland Raider contributed a team-best 42 yards on a pair of catches.
Murphy, acquired by the Panthers via trade just before the start of training camp, is vying with the injured David Gettis to be the No. 3 receiver. Gettis has yet to be activated from the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a hamstring strain he sustained earlier in the summer.
Linebackers Jon Beason (hamstring) and Thomas Davis (calf) and cornerback Brandon Hogan (knee) are also likely to sit out a second straight week for Carolina.
This will be the fourth preseason meeting between the Dolphins and Panthers, with Miami taking a 2-1 lead in the series with last year's 20-10 home triumph. The Dolphins also bested Carolina by a 27-17 count at Sun Life Stadium in a 2009 warm-up game.
08/15 11:01:01 ET
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